The Super Bowl is this coming Sunday, Feb. 7. Pandemic or not, the National Football League’s (NFL) annual championship game is once again anticipated to be a big sales opportunity for beverage, snack and food retailers. Convenience stores will want to capitalize on the festive buying in celebration of the big game.
Below, Pete Conti, senior vice president, North America, for market analyst the Nielsen Co.’s Intelligent Analytics Unit, breaks down how retailers can maximize the sales opportunity.
Trends & Strategies for CPG
From a marketing perspective, few events can compare with the Super Bowl, which is normally a banner opportunity for food, beverage and alcohol brands. This year’s big game will certainly be different, but it will still bring families and friends together — albeit in smaller gatherings — to eat snacks, drink beer (as well as hard seltzers and tequila), watch the halftime show, and of course the game itself.
Even amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many ways that consumer packaged goods (CPG) and Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) manufacturers and retailers can cater to consumers and capitalize on the excitement of the biggest single-game sporting event of the year.
Meaningful promotions and product pricing are among the most effective ways to drive sales. Though promotions have been limited during the bulk of the pandemic, U.S. retailers and manufacturers need to act now to create opportunities in our current environment, and to plan for the future. The smart re-introduction of promotions should be part of these plans. Now is the right time for brands and retailers to rethink their promotional strategies and find the right products to promote, at the right price — before your competitors do it first.
Here are some quick and easy ways CPG manufacturers and retailers can ride the Super Bowl train this year in a safe but meaningful way.
1: Promote single-serve and disposable products
Salty snacks are always a Super Bowl fan favorite. During Super Bowl week last year, salty snack sales totaled $630 million and grew 6.6% versus the previous Super Bowl. While 6.6% growth is smaller than growth rates of the other snack categories, remember that Salty Snacks is exceedingly large, which makes it difficult to show a large percent growth. In terms of net dollar increase versus year ago, the 6.6% increase translates into dollar growth that is seven times the next largest category (in terms of dollar growth).
With the pandemic still in its peak in the U.S., safety for the community around us is still paramount. To help protect our loved ones while they’re consuming their favorite salty snacks, manufacturers and retailers should consider promoting single-serve and disposable products. That will prevent any risk associated with community hands reaching into the same bowl of chips. Variety packs of salty snacks saw a 13.5% increase in sales during the lead up to last year’s Super Bowl compared with the previous year. This year, manufacturers should heavily promote their single-serve variety packs to not only cater to trends but also to safety.
2: Promote surface wipes and cleaning supplies
Super Bowl-themed surface wipes anyone? Make the tedious ritual of disinfection fun by promoting Super Bowl-themed hand sanitizers and cleaning supplies, handily available around the snack table.
3: Tie your promotions across categories
2020 was rough for consumers. Make it easy and fun for them by tying your promotional offers together for the Super Bowl. Think about cross-promoting salty snacks with beer, cleaning wipes, and disposable paper products — all boxed together with a Super Bowl-themed face mask.
4: Promote healthier products
Though chicken wings remain a Super Bowl fan favorite, many consumers are interested in eating healthier not only to combat the “COVID-15” — the inevitable pounds we’ve all put on during the pandemic — but to strengthen their immune systems.
Consider promoting products like avocados, a popular item during the Super Bowl last year (+34.2%), or multigrain (+6.5%) and vegetable-based salty snacks (+10.5%). Different varieties of hard seltzer, a massive winner in last year’s Super Bowl with a 253% increase in sales, could also be considered for promotion — like light versions with less caloric and/or alcohol content.
5: Think splurge items for insulated spenders
Though many consumers are watching their wallets due to economic worries, there are pockets of consumers who are using that occasional or regular splurge at the grocery store on premium products as a way of “treating themselves” during lockdown periods. Consider promoting special, premium products for these consumers — whose budgets might additionally be freed up by hosting smaller Super Bowl parties this year.
Beyond hard seltzer, premium forms of alcoholic beverages like prepared cocktails (+29.5% last year) and tequila (+17.3%) could be great categories for promotion. Though beer sales were flat last year during the Super Bowl, this year could be a great time for promoting not only that exclusive craft beer for your premium consumers, but also examining the pricing elasticity of your more affordable brands for those constrained consumers watching their wallets.
Next Steps for Manufacturers and Retailers
As 2021 progresses, we’re likely to see some degree of recalibration in the CPG and retail industry as vaccine availability increases and some form of normalcy returns. Manufacturers and retailers who not only plan effectively, but optimize their pricing and promotional strategies today, will come out of the pandemic stronger — and more ready to lead the way in the future.